Thursday, July 14, 2011

On My Mind: Family Planner Folder Challenge # 4 {Schedule} and the Benefits of Keeping a Clean and Orderly Home...


This will be part one of a three part series on cleaning.
Part one is about the benefits of having a cleaning schedule and keeping a clean and orderly home.
Part two will be about natural cleaning methods.
Part three will be about cleaning organisation.
Ok so I am definitely nesting - lots 'on my mind' in this area lately!
At 33.5 weeks pregnant, I still have quite a bit of energy and quite a few things on my 'to do list'.
So far in our Family Planner we've looked at the following kep concepts when getting your planner together:
2. Organise
3. Decorate
and that brings us to
One of goals on my current 'to do list' was to revisit my cleaning schedules that I keep in my Family Planner.

The ones that were in there are quite outdated and so I thought it was high time that I really looked at what was working and what wasn't anymore. I think it is important to make a schedule that works for you and your family - not one that other people are doing. Just keep tweaking it until it works for you!

{a natural cornflour spray I now use to cut through grease}
Some background first before I go on about cleaning schedules.
I want to be very clear about something.

I have NOT always been a cleaner or an organiser or someone who thought schedules would ever be helpful!
No sireee!
In fact, I grew up in a very loving, cluttered home of two self-confessed hoarders. When I got married, having just turned 21, I found myself very very lost and confused! I didn't know how to 'keep house'. I didn't have the skills that I needed to work a washing machine, to keep papers in order, to make the bed and change the sheets regularly or keep in order a linen closet. My mum, to her credit, had tried to teach me many of these things as a child in the best way she knew how, but I was always fobbing her off telling her I had 'more important things to do'. Wow that really came back to bite me later on! How I wished I'd paid attention to her words. Only six months after getting married, I found out we were expecting our first child and I went from not knowing how to run a home to not knowing how to run and home AND look after a baby!

{Most days I try and have our bed made. Even if the rest of the room has clothes on the floor or is just in need of some love, it at least helps both Brett and I feel like we can still have a place to retreat to together. Having said that, I didn't make the bed today! lol!}

Long story short, I had no choice but to LEARN the necessary skills to look after my home and my family.
Just like any career woman, I decided that THIS role WAS my career and I needed to SKILL up! How does someone with a career do this? They read up! They talk to colleagues! They undertake research projects! They attend work-experience! They do whatever it takes to become the best they can in their field in order to achieve their goals.

Well, my 'skilling up' consisted of reading books on cleaning and organisation.
I was greatly encouraged by the Above Rubies magazines and books on Motherhood by people like Sally Clarkson.
I searched out the scriptures that spoke about being a mama and how much God rules with order in His Kingdom.
My 'collegues' were women who had raised their families who had plenty of advice to offer. I asked them about what kind of budget meals they served and listened well to their stories. I spoke with other mums my own age who were raising their families and I watched and observed and took mental notes. Brett and I would discuss many of the things we saw in other people's families and wonder if and how we could implement these into our own.
My 'research projects' became things like looking up websites such as recipe websites, Fly Lady and Down to Earth and learning about how others live; how basic skills that seem to be long forgotten by the masses are being re-taught; how to bake bread, how to make soap, how to make foods that have medicinal benefits for our family, how to make natural healthier cleaners in my home, how to make delicious, wholesome home-cooked meals with flair.
'Work-experience' was my every-day experience! I tried out (and still do!) recipes that ended up a flop, cleaners that didn't really cut it and organisational projects that I should never have attempted! 

Nothing I share here has come naturally to me. It is the result of persistance and perserverance and I STILL HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN!
But the satisfaction I have of being able to have (mostly!) a clean, well organised and loving home far outweighs the effort.

{My cleaning caddy with natural vinegar and cornflour sprays along with cloths, plastic bags and a collection of different brushes}
I have never desired to have a spotless home.
We have 6 (almost 7) people residing here and it sure looks like that! There are honest tell tale signs that 4 children live here and I LOVE that because that is OUR life! However, it doesn't stop us from desiring that our home be clean and tidy.
Here are some of the reasons why I believe it is a blessing to maintain a clean and well organised home and having a schedule which helps me stay on top of it all:

* It helps to promote and maintain a hygenic environment which helps to reduce sickness

* Modelling behaviour to our children that encourages cleanliness and orderliness sets them up for when they move out of home...they will be able to look after themselves well and their families too. Helping them take responsiblity at home can help them learn to take responsibility in their future place of employment and in their community too. It teaches our children self-discipline.

{Having watched big Sis do this chore, Zippi at just under 2 wants to get in on the act and have a go at sweeping up!}

* Knowing where to locate that important document in a hurry or where the latest invitation with those important details on it helps to cut down stress! I would rather live in a peaceful rather than chaotic place. I would rather feel like I am in control in my space than feel that my space controls me!

* Knowing where and how to locate and pay that electricity bill means you are not going to have your power cut! Knowing how to stockpile food neatly saves you in the long run from buying yet another tin of beans just because you couldn't see the three that you already have somewhere in your cupboard! Having things arranged neatly can actually save you money!!!

*Having a clean and orderly home means you can open it without needing to cram things behind lounges or into cupboards so that people can find somewhere to sit. It helps make people feel at home and welcome.

* Here's a quick example. I have planned my menu for the upcoming week. We decide to take an impromptu drive out on the weekend. Instead of freaking out that it doesn't fit in with the 'schedule', I go to my recipes folder and find a good easy slow cooker meal. I have a stock cupboard so I open that and pour all the beans and tomatoes and other ingredients in the slow cooker. We set it on a timer that we keep in our kitchen drawers and then we leave the house within minutes of deciding we want to take that drive. We are out for hours. When we open the door, it smells beautifully of our homecooked meal which has (thanks to the timer) turned itself off and is sitting there just waiting to be served up. There is no stress about being tired, having just driven two hours and kids whinging that they are hungry. Dinner is served and we had a wonderful impromptu outing together!

*Having schedules can help everyone feel like they are making a worthy contribution to the cause of keeping the family afloat! When our kids complain about not wanting to do a chore, I often remind them that without their input and help, our family wouldn't be the same. We all need to pitch in and make our team work!

* When you wake up in the morning with goals in your mind of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it, you are more likely to get up and get stuck into it! That's not to say we don't all have bleh kind of days but wanting to maintain a clean and orderly home helps to get us moving and keep us focussed on our families. I think it is why Yah speaks about it in His beautiful Word to us in many places. We are encouraged to be 'busy at home' in Titus 2:3 and the woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 was very productive too; buying and selling, working with her hands, being Queen of her castle! Seeing this as part of my career choice has helped me embrace the chores around me and want to actually rule with dominion over my quarters.
* And the final thing that a clean and tidy home blesses me with is acutally more time to spend with my family! I know, some of you may be thinking that that can't be right but it is! When we wake up in the morning and everyone is working getting their chores done, we all seem to get through the work quickly enough to snuggle on the lounge and have that story together or bake a slice for morning tea, or get out in the garden and dig. There are more opportunities for time together when everyone contributes rather than one person (the mum!) doing ALL the work!

Ultimately, in years to come, my children will remember the picnics we had together with the teddies, the games of backyard cricket, the heart to heart talks, the baking, the laughing, the date nights....all the quality moments. I just don't think you have to sacrifice cleaning and order for the sake of those moments! In fact, you can have them WHILE you are working TOGETHER! Everyday when our kids unpack the dishwasher, I stand at the sink or somewhere nearby in the kitchen and they tell me all sorts of wonderful things! It's not one or the's not talking and sharing or cleaning....we are doing both at the same time AND ENJOYING IT! They chat, I listen, we laugh and discuss and we clean at the same time. In half an hour, I've had some one on one time with each of them (they do a drawer each in the dishwasher each day) and the kitchen is cleaned up ready for us to dirty it again (often within minutes of it being cleared!!!) making muffins or a slice for morning tea.
Do I believe in sacrificing my relationship with my family for the sake of a clean home? NO WAY! But I do think you can have both or at least aim for both :)
If something has to miss out, it will ALWAYS be the house.
It will never trump relationships.

{Special times our family has recently enjoyed together}

Ok, so now onto schedules.

So like I said earlier in the post, I have been looking at what works already and what needs to be tweaked in our daily and weekly chore schedule.
For me, the idea of a schedule is something to AIM for, something that helps to KEEP me on TRACK. It is not a thing that I measure my worth from! If I don't get any of these things done, I don't think, "Oh I am such a bad wife!" Nope! I just use it the next day as a GUIDE to help me know where to begin again.
The new schedule I came up with looks a little like this:
Morning Reminders for Me:
* As soon as children are awake, put on first load of washing* Swish toilet with bicarb + vinegar spray
* Wipe down ensuite vanity
* When showering, spray with vinegar and wipe down tiles & grout
* Make our bed
* General pick up in our bedroom
* Swish second toilet & wipe down vanity
* Put on second load of washing
* Hang out first load of washing
* Toaster away
* Wipe down bench top & stove top
Morning Reminders for the Children:
* Morning chore charts for bedrooms
* Fridge chore charts
* Clean your zone
Our children have two separate photo charts for chores:
One is for morning chores in their bedrooms that consist of making the bed, toys away in their proper boxes, books in their boxes, brushing teeth, pj's away. This photo poster is laminated near in the hallway of their bedroom where they can easily see what they need to do.
The other is for daily chores that get rotated on a weekly basis. I've posted about them HERE BEFORE. I've added more to the charts though since then and they are working even better for us now. The chores currently on this chart are:
Top drawer of the dishwasher, bottom drawer of the dishwasher, cutlery drawer of the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, putting away the cerals + milks after brekky, emptying both the regular bin and the recycling daily, dusting, collecting the eggs and emptying the compost. 
Meal time chores are: placemats, cutlery, drinks (Zippi now goes and sets her placemat out every night getting it from the cupboard. This is her 'chore' and she loves to help!)
Then just once weekly the kids have to do one of these:
Empty all the rest of the household bins, clean the double glass doors (with the vinegar spray!), clean the bathroom thoroughly.
This might seem like a lot, but honestly, since the load is shared between us all the jobs get done SO quickly! And it means that we are all working at the same time. While the kiddos are doing their Morning Chores, I'm doing mine too.
Ok then we have...
Afternoon Reminders for Me:
* Mill wheat for bread making (this one I am yet to accomplish but it is still a goal on my list!)
* Before cooking dinner, make sure dish rack is empty
* Fill sink and wash pots & utensils as I go
* Wipe down bench & stove top

Afternoon Reminders for the Children:
* Dinner table chores done before dinner is ready to be served
* Make sure all bookwork is away
* Make sure your zone is tidy
(At the beginning of the week, the three big kids are given a zone: loungeroom, learning room or backroom. While we try to collectively clean these areas, if there is a need to a quick tidy up, each of them knows which area they need to do a once-over of).

Before Bed Reminders for Me:

* Check menu for next day, get out meat if necessary, put bread on (again the bread stuff has been put on hold for the moment but something I desperately want to get back into)

Other Jobs that Need to be Done Daily by Me (or as close to!):
* Write up homeschool diary
* folding washing
* putting away folded washing
*airing bathmat
* tidy top of TV cabinet (which attracts stuff like a magnet!!!)

Other Jobs that Need to be Done Weekly-Fortnightly by Me:

*Deep clean of bathrooms
*Vacuum all rooms
* Change and wash bed linen
* tidy sewing table
*bicarb grout treatment both showers
* sweep out laundry
* clean oven
* wipe over top of range hood with cornflour spray

I printed off my chart, laminated a copy and stuck it up on the fridge.
There is also one in the Family Planner.

If you would like one, I uploaded a blank version of it HERE FOR YOU to print off. Here is the link to MY SCHEDULE but that probably won't be of much use. I just included it in case anyone got stuck and needed some ideas.

Before I sign off for now, please allow me to say one more thing.
If you happen to pop into my home (like say right now!) you might see cushions scattered on the floor by a two year old making an obstacle course, you might see crumbs on the floor unswept yet, grubby fingerprints on the glass doors and a messy learning room. Like I said, relationships always trump the schedule and this morning that included listening to a paper puppet play by Liji, watching Ethi shoot hoops outside and spending time brushing Stass' hair. What I'm trying to say is don't come by and expect to see a spotless home because quite frankly there is not one here! However, please drop by, take us as we are and share in our lives. We are works in progress on a fabulous journey with our Maker that is ever changing us! 

So that's it for today.
More to come soon,

Oh and want to play along with updating your own cleaning schedules or showing how your Family Planner is going? Then just fill in your details into the Linky Box and link to your post about it.


Elyssa said...

Hi Lusi! It's funny you just wrote about cleaning and having a routine/schedule. I just posted something about that on my blog too!

I love fly lady too! Like you, I got married young and had only had to manage my room. (and not very well.) Having a whole home was a big change.

Btw, I love your cute labeled bins for cleaning supplies. Are the words vinyl?

lusi said...

Hi Elyssa,
Thanks for dropping by!
The words on the bins are printed on there; not vinyl. Would be cool if you could get blank bins and vinyl stickers and label them yourself huh?!
Have a lovely weekend ahead :)
Lusi x

Melinda (Simply Smitten) said...

I'm so happy you found my blog, I'm guessing it was through TGL? I was thrilled to see that you're a fellow homeschooler, it's always nice to 'meet' people who've embarked on that journey. :) And then I got caught up in this post, since I'm a self confessed and unabashed clean/neat freak! I love simplicity and order around me, it allows life and joy and creativity to flow with such ease! I have 3 girls and since we are home pretty much all the time, the house does get 'dirty' during the day. But by the time I crawl into bed at night it is picked up and clean, ready to greet a new day. Everyone does their fair share around here, and it works out beautifully for us. :) Was also thrilled to see all of those green cleaning supplies ~ excellent! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lusi, just thought I would pop by and let you know that you were often in my thoughts this weekend. Mal and I were in Melbourne leisurely browsing at a market, and then today at homeware stores, and I was thinking of how much I love seeing and reading your posts about your home. I don't share your gift of creativity when it comes to decore, but I do love dreaming of such spaces. Love to you are yours GG xxxx

lusi said...

Hi Melinda! I am SO LOVING your blog! Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit more of yourself here. We also 'reset' the house each night (or almost each night!) and enjoy the house being ready for whatever the new day holds!
Thanks for your encouraging words.

And G, love to you my friend! Thanks for sharing that about our home; you are so sweet. I was thinking of you too this weekend - how funny! My sisters had their 30th birthday celebration there this weekend which of course I had to miss with being this far pregnant. But anyway, I was thinking of you too!
Much love to you and Mal and the fam,
Lus x


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